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Thursday, 25 October 2018
Page: 11183


Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (14:35): My question is to the Minister for Energy. Will the minister update the House on what action the government is taking to bring down power prices? How would a reckless approach of failing to hold the energy companies to account push up energy prices?

Mr TAYLOR (HumeMinister for Energy) (14:35): I thank the hardworking member for her question. On Tuesday this week, we announced our plan for affordable, reliable power, which will help families and businesses up and down the Central Coast, including in the member's electorate of Robertson. Our plan will reduce prices by stopping the price gouging with our big-stick legislation, which we'll be bringing to the parliament later this year. A fair price safety net for customers who don't get around to negotiating will be in place by 1 July next year, with a down payment for all customers on 1 January.

We're backing investment in reliable generation with a short list of projects by early next year. From 1 July, we'll require energy companies to commit to invest years ahead to make sure they've got the affordable, reliable capacity in place to serve Australian customers. The AEMC found that customers on standing offers could be paying up to $832 more per year than alternative market offers. Small businesses could be paying up to almost $3½ thousand more. This loyalty tax is outrageous. You can have two houses or two businesses side by side with exactly the same energy usage and one can be paying thousands more than the other. The rip-offs have to stop.

The member asked about alternatives. This morning, the AFR announced that Labor will side with the big energy companies—their big rip-offs and their record profits. The shadow minister doesn't come into question time armed with questions for me; he comes armed with a toothpick, and that is his position. That's his position. He just wants to take a toothpick to the big energy companies so they can keep their prices high and keep their record profits. As I've said from the beginning, my single focus is to get prices down for Australian families and businesses and, if we need to use a big stick, we will do it.

Mr Watts interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Gellibrand is warned.